Barnet Council have permanently gone greener with their environmentally friendly School Street Scheme across primary schools in the borough.
The council’s School Street Scheme, which was recently announced as permanent across five primary schools, included a cycle-to-school week from 25-29 September, and World Car-Free-Day 2023 on 22 September.
This is a part of Barnet’s plan to be a net zero council by 2030 and a net zero borough by 2042.
Andrea Grigoriadou, the Eco Lead of the partaking Colindale Primary School, said: “From a young age you can learn more things because your mind is like a sponge, so you just absorb things.
“As you grow older, as adults, we become more narrow-minded.
“The children’s minds are open, so it’s the right time for us to teach them as much as we can about the environment, and how to protect it.
“Our planet is deteriorating, and whether we like it or not, we need to show young children that we need to take action right now.
“So if we don’t do anything they won’t know what to do when they grow older. It’s a matter of life or death for me.”
Barnet council’s School Street Scheme allows the students of Colindale Primary School to choose how they want to come to school, such as biking, walking or scooting, with the aim of encouraging them to travel in a sustainable way.
Elizabeth Wan, 33, is a member of the parent-led campaign group Mums for Lungs and an academic research doctor at The Royal Free Hospital, London, working in kidney health.
She is a mum to a two-year-old and was a week past due with her second child when she spoke to North West Londoner.
She said: “I was quite frightened by some of the stats I read about the effect of air pollution on children’s health.
“There’s a lot of evidence now that there are air pollution particles in my placenta because I live in London.
“This will have a lasting impact on my unborn child.”
In London, by 2025, 3,178 schools across all of London will be exposed to harmful levels of pollution, including dust, dirt and smoke, that exceed the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, according to data published by London City Hall.
This will drop to 3,148 by 2030.
Sami Walbury, 37, a member of Extinction Rebellion Barnet, said: “The scale of what can happen on a societal level absolutely dwarfs what happens on an individual level.
“We need to be teaching young people not only how to walk to school, but how to take part in their society, and we need adults to make sure that’s possible.
“Empowering the parents of young people to feel like they can do something is the real benefit of climate crisis education.
“Schemes like the walk to school and cycle to school are fantastic, and they are a part of the future and a part of the solution, but they’re a small part.”
Data released by the Office for National Statistics in 2022 reports that six in ten adults expect to be directly impacted by climate change by 2030.
Barry Rawlings, Barnet council leader, said: ‘In Barnet, we believe in taking meaningful steps towards a more sustainable future. World Car-Free Day and Cycle to School Week are not just events; they are powerful tools to encourage positive change.
‘School Streets bring a wave of benefits. Children thrive in healthier environments, breathe in clean air and enjoy active travel journeys – leading to healthier bodies, and happier minds.’